“Feeling sorry for her”. Kate Daniels uses the iconic photo of the child, hurt in a napalm attack on a Vietnam village who is screaming in pain and fear, to show the extent of the suffering that innocent civilians have to go through in war time. She wants people to be aware of the pain and to show what the reality is like for them in the war, focusing on the horrors in particular. The poem uses this to instil emotions such as sympathy and compassion but also to make people feel appalled by the war. She asserts that all over the world, people are “being appalled at the war”. The poem foregrounds the human suffering and by showing this, she tries to make the Americans feel guilty for causing all this pain to millions of innocent people in Vietnam. Daniels reiterates this by criticizing the human response to war further on in the poem. “How can she know what we really are?” As the child is young, she is naïve to the world around her and therefore does not know how cruel people can be. The narrator is speaking on behalf of all the Americans in the country who believe the war is their responsibility. She uses the words “terribly human” in juxtaposition as a way of illustrating the two sides of humanity. Children tend to look to adults for help as the word “human” implies generosity, kindness and compassion. However, the word “terribly” has a negative feeling and either can mean ‘very’ or can show how awful something can be. Using these words together shows that what humans look like on the outside is not the same as what is in the inside; it contains both meanings simultaneously.
The photo of the young child running shows the desperation of her need. “Her arms stretched out” gives the reader the idea that the girl is running towards us, reaching out for us to help her. The narrator demonstrates her shock as she realises that the girl does not know that she is running towards the enemy. “She is running – my god – to us”. The girl, running to the humans who she believes can help her, shows the idea of the little understanding the girl has of the reasons and people behind the war. Also, the fact that the girl continues to run after the photograph is taken, gives the impression that the girl is willing to run as far as possible to reach safety and implies the difficulties of her life from then on. The word “running” is repeated often and by doing so, it gives us the impression that the girl is so desperate to find help. It also indicates that the girl’s journey to find this is very long and makes the reader question if the ongoing war will ever stop.
The appearance of the child illustrates how vulnerable and innocent she is. She is “a naked child” due to the fact that her skin is burning from the napalm and “her mouth open”, screaming in pain and fear, makes you feel sympathetic towards her and also realise how cruel we can be sometimes. This is reiterated by Daniels again by her explicit criticism.
There is a contrast between the...